Here I have a bag of apples. I think apples might be my favourite fruit. I eat apple sauce every morning and an apple cut up with lemon juice almost every afternoon to tide me over between lunch and supper. I buy a lot of apples at once, so it is a good thing that all the apples like spending so much time together.
But – what is this? This is not an apple! It does not have shiny red skin. No stem. No sweet smell… This is a potato! I guess I will have to keep this somewhere else since it definitely does not fit in with the apples.
We find all kinds of reasons in the world to make people feel like outcasts – whether they are from an orchard or a garden; white or red; dinner or dessert; sweet or savoury.
In our Bible story today, Jesus visits with a man named Zacchaeus who is an outcast in Jericho. He was the potato in that city full of apples. But Jesus made him feel important and loved and forgiven. And he wants us to do that for the outcasts in our lives. Sometimes that means sharing your lunch with a classmate who has none. Sometimes it means welcoming a new member at the church even when you think you are too busy. And for us today it means inviting everyone to join in partaking of the meal that Jesus served to his disciples. We are all invited to share at this table, to share in communion – the apples, potatoes, gourds, and tax collectors among us.